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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Sites to Shop for Unforgettable Gifts


 By | Dec, 2012
 
 
We all know one of them: that person who seems impossible to shop for.
Maybe they already seem to have it all. Maybe they’re the minimalist who asks for nothing. Or perhaps they’re a new co-worker or awkward in-law you just don’t know that well.
Whatever the reason, there are shopping spots that are off the beaten path with gifts any recipient on your list is sure to remember. While most of these stores have plenty of expensive options, many also carry plenty of affordable ones as well.
  1. Brookstone: This online and mall-based store sells gadgets and gifts of every kind – from remote-controlled spy tanks to massagers of all shapes and sizes. Their products tend to be on the more expensive side, but last year, Brookstone’s best sales happened during the weeks leading up to the holidays.
     Etsy: This online marketplace allows artists, crafters, and other creators to sell handmade items (and resell vintage items) directly to e-shoppers. From one-of-a-kind jewelry to hats for cats, Etsy offers almost too many handmade options to pick from. And if you really can’t decide, they now offer gift cards, which just about any woman would enjoy using.
  2. Old Time Candy Company: No matter how old your gift recipient is, this online store stocks the candy they’ll remember eating as a kid. It carries retro candy from every decade from the 1920s to the 1990s.
  3. Perpetual Kid: As its name implies, this online store is the perfect place to shop for children and for the grown-up with a loud inner child. Note that items in their sale category – like centipede ice cube trays and Family Guy pint glass sets – are currently up to 82 percent off.
  4. Quirky: This company helps would-be inventors turn their ideas into products with assistance from social media. The result is some ingeniously useful gift ideas, especially for people who enjoy technology or cooking.
  5. SimpleHuman: This company describes their products as “tools for efficient living.” Their focus on simplicity and functionality makes their website a great place to shop for the hyper-organized and anyone who recently moved into a new home.
  6. ThinkGeek: This online store is to geeks what Perpetual Kid is to grown-up children. And their On Sale section is always stocked up – currently with more than 500 items that are up to 75 percent off, like a stainless-steel Star Trek Enterprise pizza cutter and a vampire pacifier.
  7. The Ultimate Rose: If you’re not sure what to buy the wife or girlfriend this year but have a few hundred dollars to blow on six-foot-tall roses, this is your site.
  8. Uncommon Goods: “Unique gifts and creative design” is this online store’s motto and an accurate summary of its goods. If you’re stumped, check out their Gift Finder tool, which narrows your options down based on who you’re shopping for and how much you want to spend.
  9. Vat19: Perhaps you’ve seen this company’s TV commercials featuring their five-pound gummy bears. The self-described “purveyors of curiously awesome products” also offer flat-rate shipping, a “Sort by Recipient” feature, and dozens of options in the under-$10 and under-$20 ranges.
Got more suggestions? We’d love to hear your comments below or on Facebook.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Poll Shows Overwhelming Majority of Consumers Will Cut Back

 
Washington, DC – The November poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website queried consumers regarding holiday spending.  The results revealed that 50 percent of consumers intend to spend less on holiday purchases this year than last, indicating they are in a worse financial position, while thirty-seven percent plan to spend nothing at all, as they fear further financial distress. 

While this total of 87 percent is a shocking number, when asked the same question in 2011, 91 percent of respondents indicated their intention was to cut back or spend zero on holiday gifts, demonstrating a positive year-over-year trend. 

“This statistic speaks loudly, and underscores that consumers are not willing to repeat the mistakes of Christmases past by spending irresponsibly this year,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

 A seemingly contradictory statistic was revealed in the NFCC’s October poll where 70 percent of those participating felt that their best financial days were in front of them.  Taken together, the two polls suggest that Americans are both optimistic and realistic, a combination that could lead to a brighter financial future. 

“It takes optimism to endure the difficult economic times of the past few years,” continued Cunningham. “However, it takes a dose of realism to not become an emotional spender during the holidays.  It appears as though consumers have learned a tough lesson, and will emerge better equipped to face future financial challenges.”

Looking at the other poll answer options, 11 percent intend to spend as they did in 2011, stating that their financial situation is now stable, while 3 percent will spend more, feeling as though they are in a better financial position this year.

Holiday spending can financially make or break retailers.  The same is true for consumers.  Don’t let it be your personal fiscal cliff. 

For help developing a holiday budget, controlling spending, or any other personal finance concern, contact an NFCC Member Agency.  To locate the agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org.  For assistance in Spanish, call (800) 682-9832.

The actual November poll question and responses are as follows:

This holiday season I will…

A.    Spend as I did last year because my financial life is stable = 11%  

B.     Cut back on spending, since I am worse off financially this year = 50%

C.     Spend more than last year because I am in a better financial position = 3%

D.    Not spend at all, because I anticipate further financial distress = 37%

 

Note: The NFCC’s November Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC Web site (www.DebtAdvice.org) from November 1 - 30, 2012 and was answered by 1,413 individuals.

 

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help more than three million consumers through close to 750 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en EspaƱol (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org.  Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on Twitter: twitter.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on YouTube: www.YouTube.com/NFCC09 and our blog: http://financialeducation.nfcc.org/.